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Dudley Simpson

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Biography

Dudley Simpson (born 1922, Melbourne) is an Australian television composer who is best known for his work on Doctor Who.

Prior to leaving Australia, Simpson composed for the Borovansky Ballet Company, forerunner to the Australian Ballet.

Simpson’s first work on Doctor Who was during William Hartnell’s era as the First Doctor in Planet of Giants, in 1964, but he is primarily associated with the programme in the 1970s. He also appeared on screen as a music hall conductor in the 1977 story The Talons of Weng Chiang; Simpson had to be paid a special fee for this appearance as he was a member of the Musicians’ Union and not Equity.

When John Nathan-Turner became producer of Doctor Who in 1980, he decided that the music needed to be updated, and took Simpson out for a meal telling him how much he appreciated his work on Doctor Who but that it would no longer be required as he intended to have the BBC Radiophonic Workshop provide music from now on. Simpson’s last broadcast work on Doctor Who was for The Horns of Nimon (although he also composed music for the unbroadcast Shada).

Between 1964 and 1980, Simpson composed the music for 60 Doctor Who stories, (61 counting Shada). Simpson was also responsible for the memorable theme music for The Tomorrow People (1973) and Blake’s 7 (1978).

Simpson’s style was usually to work closely with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in the realisation of his compositions, but he also used small groups of musicians, often with a prominent bass clarinet to perform his work.

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